The smoke is only now clearing following damning revelations that premiere major blogger of the Opposition — Jover Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog — has been receiving funds from no less than the Queen of All Philippine Media, Kris Aquino to “boost” her blog posts on Facebook. As this smoke clears, what emerges are the remains of an ideological battlefield upon which a modern-day civil war was fought between an alliance of the left (left-of-centre liberals and far-left communist) and all the rest. This wasn’t a war between Dutertards and Yellowtards as many have pitched this digital civil war. It was a battle fought by a once-powerful bloc that identified with the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clans that once dominated both politics and the national narrative for continued domination over all of Philippine society.
Filipinos were, over the last two to three years, essentially “fighting” to rid their society of a primitive medieval scourge — a “holy” oligarchy ruling the Philippines backed by the Roman Catholic Church. This former ruling bloc, as it turns out, was a vestige of colonial rule that celebrated “independence” from Spain but failed to mention that Roman overlords continue to direct their actions and ideals. Though deposed in 2016 following a rout in a national election that saw the rise to power of the first Mindanaoan president Rodrigo Duterte, their Roman overlords essentially continue to rule outside of the Philippines’ governance framework. With this umbilical cord to “divinity” still intact, this bloc, a.k.a. the Yellowtards, continue to be a force — albeit significantly-diminished — to reckon with.
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They are back in the role as “leaders” of today’s Philippine Opposition. Unfortunately for the Opposition, this “leadership” is not delivering results. With the 2019 mid-term elections fast approaching, it is starting to look like the Opposition have yet to step up to the challenge of beating a popular incumbent’s clout on the vote for representatives to fill Congressional seats this year. Much of the strategy employed by the Opposition involved the lowest-common-denominator approach of undermining the Duterte Administration very likely because the candidates they have been fielding have so far failed to deliver compelling value propositions to Filipino voters nor demonstrated any clear differentiating virtues to them. In short, the Opposition has focused its messaging on highlighting negatives but offer no positives, no alternatives, and, overall, no carrots to Filipino voters. They are relying on a strategy to lower the quality bar to enable mediocre candidates to clear it.
In essence, the Opposition campaign is a massive effort to insult the intelligence of Filipino voters.
This foolish focus on negative campaigning with virtually zero hedge on a positive aspect to it is proving to be a fatal lapse in strategic judgement. Having failed to score on lame positive spins to their candidates on offer, the Opposition have seen their vicious demolition campaign against the Duterte government collapse catastrophically. The recently-erupted scandal surrounding a spectacular falling out between LP showbiz juggernaut Kris Aquino and her business manager Nicko Falcis has led to a series of leaked information revealing money trails from the so-called “Crazy Rich Asian” leading to a who’s-who of social media “influencers”. At the top of this food chain is Jover Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog fame, the single most prominent blogger upon which the Opposition have singularly-pinned — again, foolishly — the “new media” aspect of their campaign. A variety of mid- to bottom-feeders in the Opposition social media ecosystem have also been implicated in this Crazy Rich gravy train, including purported Aquino boy toy Gideon Pena and a mob of low-value Twitter “alt” trolls. Virtually all of these trolls and posterboys are vigorously campaigning for former Solicitor General and, now, senatorial candidate Florin “Pilo” Hilbay who is renowned as a serial blocker of those who dare challenge his ideas online.
The Opposition have also invested heavily in its mainstream media arm Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa who had, over much of 2018, rode on a massive campaign to raise her profile amongst cronies in overseas Corporate Media organisations like The New York Times where she is regularly featured and TIME Magazine which crowned her one of a number of “Persons of the Year” of 2018 all of whom are “journalists”, interestingly enough. Other mainstream media businesses also seem to be toeing the Liberal Party line by remaining silent or putting a biased spin on the setbacks beleaguering the Opposition in recent weeks. They have, so far, under-reported the Falcis-Aquino fracas resulting in a severe eroding of their credibility. Asked to comment on the matter, former Inquirer editor-in-chief John Nery has so far kept mum even as he is set to celebrate Laurio’s wedding as one of her principal sponsors.
Within the ranks of the base of supporters of the Opposition is likely to be a mounting collective distrust of one another as it is likely that revelations of money being paid to a select few individuals within their community may be fomenting resentment. Already, some of the most rabid LP supporters have publicly-expressed disappointment and even outrage over Kris Aquino’s financial dealings. Indeed, the once-loyal Falcis brothers — Nicko and his brother Jesus — are at the centre of the leaks that fuel the “PABoost” Circus of late. Indeed it is being a bit too kind to describe the Opposition as merely fraying at the edges. The reality is that it is on an irreversible implosion.
With no build proposition to Filipino voters on offer and the infrastructure of its Demolition Campaign in a spiral of self-destruction, the Opposition are hard-pressed to raise their brand equity by the bootstraps in the few remaining months of the 2019 election campaign. Perhaps if they had heeded calls to ditch the Yellowtards sent their way over much of 2018, they would have entered 2019 in far better shape — with a compelling proposal to build and a more tempered and circumspect negative campaign against the incumbent in place to serve them well.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.